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Do you need a doula? What is a birth doula?

Updated: Nov 18, 2023

A long time ago, women used to birth easily, naturally with comfort provided by a bevy of knowing women. The woman already knows what is happening is natural and allows her body to do it because the environment (space, comfort, messages) is absolutely the right environment for her to birth.

Nurses provided a certain amount of care - more medical and sometimes a supportive word. However they are stretched between many rooms and women and administrative work. Women today are left to themselves with a clueless scared husband, bright lights, beeping machines and continuously monitored and restricted in food, positions etc. Changes in nurses during shifts cause a mother to feel abandoned (even if its irrational) which again...causes discomfort.

Birth in these circumstances are guaranteed to be more uncomfortable, more scary and more painful.

In comes a Birth Doula.

Birth doula at work Thomson Medical

What is a birth doula?

A birth doula is a professional, trained birth guide whose main goal is to help families have a safe, healthy and positive labour experience. Birth doulas are not medical professionals even though they have knowledge on medical procedures and its effects on the birth process.

There are doulas with varying beliefs and it is important to find a doula who matches your goals and where you are at.

The doula experience I am describing would be how I personally do it.

Pre Birth

I am normally in touch with you and your husband before labour even begins. We get to know each other, I would have taught you hypnobirthing the Mongan Method and also labour body preparation classes. By the time your contractions begin, you would have learnt and practiced all that techniques for you to go into relaxation easily.

During Labour

A birth doula provides the mother physical hands on support, emotional, mental, spiritual support... so she can work with ease with her baby. Every doula has their style. Just like how every woman comforting a labouring mother in the past has their differing styles. These supportive, non judgemental women are essential for a labouring woman to feel better.

I am personally physical - providing massages over muscles that require softening. There have also been cases where the baby needs more room to descend and I have worked with mum to reposition, massage, stretch etc to get baby down. Once, there was a TRX available, and it was used to held mum decompress her spine and a back-to-back baby move down.

In addition, my favourite tool is hypnosis. Relaxed labours produces the best, smoothest, quickest and most pleasurable births. I will not deny I believe birth to be a sacred rite of passage and so you will find some woo woo additions to support your birth energetically.

Why a good and positive birth is important for motherhood?

A 2009 study (Takehara et al, 2009) studied the implications of emotionally enriching childbirth experiences on postnatal depression and parenting stress after childbirth.

Here are the results:

"This study revealed that having good childbirth experiences inhibits negative awareness of motherhood and abusive behavior towards children. These results show that it is important for mothers to be provided with appropriate care during pregnancy and labor for preventing child abuse and parenting stress and anxiety."

It is absolutely necessary for a woman to have a good birth to flow into motherhood healthily, bonding easily and nurturing her baby. This leads me to conclude that a doula is absolutely necessary for every woman to feel supported, for better family health.

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